KidO, Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


Front row seats - where you can plant your feet firmly in one of the "magic squares" - are already reserved... for the 3 to 4 years olds that this new Scottish Opera production has specifically in mind. No matter where you sit, however, KidO works its magic. Taken at face value, it's a charming piece of musical whimsy where an egg-laying magpie (soprano Frances Morrison-Allen) stages a home invasion - unfortunately choosing to nest in the house of an obsessively tidy chap (baritone Andrew McTaggart) whose mantra is "MY place, this is MY place - and this is the way I like to do things!" To which the determined magpie tunefully chirrups arpeggios of proots and pee-prips and stays put. Small children immediately tune in to the emerging contretemps and eagerly anticipate Awful Fallings-Out. But the mysterious Winged Messenger (Stuart Semple, costumed in golden splendour, complete with bells and cymbals) whizzes in on his scooter, delivering a Pandora's box of musical sounds that prove instrumental in brokering peace.

It's a simple, cheerful, easy-to-follow narrative but behind its playful appeal lies a creative team - director Lu Kemp, composer Katy Lavinia Cooper and designer Ali MacLaurin - with a generous understanding of how to make music engage nursery-age imaginations. Semple has already lured young onlookers into the adventure with hi-fives that mysteriously conjure up parps, hoots and tinkles. Soon, everyday objects - a kettle, tin mugs - become the stuff of percussion while the singers use their resonant operatic range in vocalisings that rely on cadence, tone and rhythm rather that dense text to convey character and feelings. It works a treat, whatever your age!

For tour details, see